Originally appeared in The Troy Record on Friday, February 15, 2008
By Tom Caprood, The Record
ALBANY — Several area women used Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show how their hearts have been broken due to a lack of essential services for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Grannies for Peace” was the group that held signs and banners expressing their opposition to war to passing motorists in front of the Albany Veterans Administration Hospital on Holland Avenue.
“It’s troubling for us to hear that there are not enough services for all of the soldiers who return from war, especially for those who have psychological problems as a result of the kind of war this has turned out to be,” said Troy resident Sue Clark.
This was the third year the group came out on the holiday to protest disservice to veterans and, while all of the women do not have direct relatives in the armed services, they felt for wounded veterans as if they were part of their family.
“If they’re not our grandchildren, they are certainly someone else’s,” said Mabel Leon, a Schenectady resident.
The women were not protesting against the local hospital itself, but the national policies which they are forced to follow.
According to members of the group, the care currently being provided by the government is not enough for the long-term problems faced by both veterans and their families.
“Many of these returning soldiers have wounds that are not visible and cannot be healed in a short period of time,” said Leon, referring to psychological conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder.
Leon felt that the lack of care was so severe that it was a major cause for the alarming rates of suicides and homicides committed by veterans who return from battle.
The group called on the government to implement a new policy that would require all returning veterans to be tested for the presence of depleted uranium, a toxic chemical which can lead to severe long-term health problems if absorbed by the body.
Additionally, they also felt that women veterans should receive counseling for the specific traumas they have endured during their service, such as rape and various medical conditions.
“So many wonderful lives of young people have been ruined by these wars. We feel they should have a high priority in getting the services they need,” said Clark.